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  • Natalia Piotrowska

Intergenerational England at NHS Confed: A Vision for Ageing Well

Emily Abbott, the Programme Director for Intergenerational Music Making (IMM) and Co-Founder of Intergenerational England, recently shared insights at the NHS Confed 2024 around the ageing well and intergenerational agenda. Her presentation highlighted the transformative potential of intergenerational approaches in healthcare and community support. Here’s a summary of her key points and the actions needed to bring this vision to life.  


The Power of Intergenerational Connection 


Emily emphasised the importance of an intergenerational approach, which integrates connections among people of different ages within the systems and structures around them. This strategy aims to harness these relationships to enhance overall community wellbeing. 


The Framework for Action focusses on embedding intergenerational understanding in the context of ageing well, health inequalities and the importance of social community services:

 

  1. Intergenerational Social Support Systems: Promoting human connectivity and social wellbeing, such as mentorship programmes pairing younger and older individuals to share experiences and support. 

  1. Life Course Approach to Health and Wellbeing: Incorporating age and its nuances into population health strategies, emphasising a continuum of care from childhood through old age. 

  1. Intergenerational Integrated Working Systems: Developing cross-sector partnerships in housing, transport, education and community centres to create better health outcomes. 


Health and wellbeing in the UK are significantly impacted by health inequalities, demographic shifts, and economic issues. Mental health disorders among children have risen sharply, and life expectancy varies dramatically with socioeconomic status, with those in least deprived areas living a decade longer. Chronic illnesses are more prevalent and less effectively treated in lower socioeconomic groups. The ageing population and increasing ethnic diversity add pressure on healthcare services. Economic challenges, including high income inequality, widespread poverty, rising unemployment, and a housing crisis, exacerbate these health disparities, highlighting the need for comprehensive strategies to address these issues. 


Many of these challenges can be solved by thinking differently. By creating a society where all ages can contribute equally, and are valued equally. But, to do this we must place value on connection and sector integration and strive to embed an ethos across our communities. 


It is imperative to approach health in an inclusive and holistic manner, recognising that the wider determinants of health encompass all aspects of society and necessitate a cross-sectoral and collaborative response. Health inequalities are deeply intertwined with these broader determinants, which include access to safe and affordable housing, reliable transportation, quality education, nutritious food, and supportive community environments. Intergenerational England prioritises the diversity of our population alongside the intersecting systems that influence individuals throughout their lives.  

 

Next Steps 


Intergenerational approaches are positioned to enhance medical interventions and address challenges like waiting lists, inequalities, health education, and care pathways, complementing existing practices and local systems. 


 To implement this vision, several actions are necessary: 


  • Data Collection and Synthesis: Identify existing knowledge and gaps to develop informed solutions. 

  • Intergenerational Partnerships and NHS Integration: Foster collaboration between local embed a framework that facilitates ongoing and successful cross sector working. 

  • Community Training and Programme Delivery: Provide training within existing frameworks, leveraging local health and cultural ecosystems. 

  • Policy and Strategy Development: Develop intergenerational place-based strategies to support healthcare commissioning and evaluation. 

  • Intergenerational Advocacy: Introduce advocacy roles within local Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) to prioritise intergenerational perspectives. 


Intergenerational England: A Broader Vision 


Intergenerational England aims to drive this vision at both practice and policy levels. IE collaborates with key partners including Age UK, Care England and NHS England, Centre for Ageing Better, NHS England, British Future, UK Youth, I Will focusing on health, workforce and housing. Emily highlighted the urgency of addressing demographic changes and the need to value intergenerational connections to combat social isolation and health disparities across the life course. 


By fostering connections across age groups and sectors, Intergenerational England aims to build a resilient and an inclusive society. The path forward involves strategic partnerships, data-driven strategies and community-focused programmes, paving the way for a healthier, more connected future. 


As we progress with this initiative, we are actively collaborating with ICSs to establish an intergenerational health taskforce dedicated to research and innovation in this field.  If you are interested in joining this broader conversation, please reach out to us.


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